Are you a worrier? I’m totally a worrier. Well, I’m better than I used to be, I guess you could say that I’m a worrier in recovery. All this means is that although I still worry, I’m better able to stop it before it gets worse or talk myself down when I start to get anxious.
I used to worry about everything. It was exhausting! I’d worry about what I did last year, I’d worry about what would happen in twenty years! I’d worry about appointments, about how I did my job (or how I didn’t do my job), I’d worry that I didn’t do something the “right” way and I’d worry about OTHER people ALL.THE.TIME. My silent motto was: Why worry tomorrow when you can worry today?
But about a week or two before this past Christmas something changed. It was the morning after my best friend and her boyfriend were over for our Christmas dinner. Our bedroom is adjacent to the kitchen and I woke up after having slept in (ohhhh yeah!!!) and I saw the piles of dishes beside the sink from my bed and that’s where something changed in me. Whereas normally I would’ve dreaded having to deal with that mess, I found myself smiling and cuddling up deeper into bed. I became so incredibly grateful for my life that I was almost moved to tears. Those weren’t just dirty dishes, they were dirty dishes created out of joy. They were created out of love, fun conversation, good wine, great friendship and laughter. I was grateful to be able to sleep in on a Sunday morning beside a man that I loved and who loved me back in a house that I was grateful to live in. Shelter, love, security and food. That’s the first three of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs met right there!
Did anything different happen for this newfound gratefulness to occur? No! I still had all the same stressors in my life as I did months before when I was worrying about everything but for some reason, on that winter morning, gratefulness crept up into my wine-filled, sleep-addled brain and made a home for itself.
The awesome thing? This feeling of gratefulness has yet to go away and now that I’ve grabbed onto it, I sure as hell ain’t gonna let it go! Christmas ended up being one of the best Christmas’ ever because I focused on what I had in my life and not on how I was going to afford gifts.
Yes, bad crap happens and will continue to happen. Some of it is worse than others but you always have something to be grateful for. Your happiness in life is not dictated by events, they’re dictated by how you respond to those events and if you respond out of a place of gratefulness, the quality of your life will expand 1,000%!
I don’t worry nearly as much as I did before because after that morning, I didn’t want to miss my life and constantly worrying does nothing but cause you to miss what’s happening right here, right now. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer. At age 25, she has lymphatic cancer (I can’t even imagine). At first, I freaked out, then I realized that my freaking out would not do her a lick of good. What she needs now is people who are strong and can support her. I am grateful for every moment with her, dealing with things one day at a time. Whatever happens will happen but right now she’s making the decisions that are best for her in this given moment and all I can do is the same back. There’s no use in worrying, she doesn’t need people worrying, she needs support and that’s what I’m going to do.
Now, anytime I find myself stressing out over things I cannot control, I take three deep breaths and count three things I’m grateful for in that moment. It allows me to clear my head and create a place of appreciation. The past is the past and there is nothing I can do about it, the future hasn’t even happened yet so why am I worrying about it? If I act in each moment of my life in a way that brings integrity, love and appreciation to everything, no matter how difficult it is to do so, the future will take care of itself. It has so far!
The best way for you to start living a life of gratefulness is to make a list of things to be grateful for and, like what I do, keep this with you for when you find yourself freaking out over events you cannot control and read them to yourself. Life, right here and now, isn’t all that bad. In fact, it’s only as bad as you make it so do you want to make it negative and sour or do you want to be happy and let that carry you?
The choice is up to you.